Deciding to Agree: Explaining Consensual Behavior on the United States Supreme Court

41 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2008

See all articles by Pamela C. Corley

Pamela C. Corley

Vanderbilt University

Artemus Ward

Northern Illinois University

Amy Steigerwalt

Georgia State University

Abstract

How, in a time of increasing divisiveness and party polarization - a divisiveness that is evident in the public, in Congress, and within the Supreme Court itself - does the Court ever achieve consensus? In this paper we examine how the Supreme Court achieves consensus in its decision-making, and what factors affect the level of consensus that is achieved by the Court. We examine all cases decided between 1953 and 2006 to determine what factors influence the Court's ability to achieve consensus in these cases. We find that consensus is more likely when the justices are ideologically compatible and when the case is easy.

Keywords: supreme court, judicial decision-making, unanimity, judicial legitimacy

JEL Classification: D72, K40, K10

Suggested Citation

Corley, Pamela C. and Ward, Artemus and Steigerwalt, Amy, Deciding to Agree: Explaining Consensual Behavior on the United States Supreme Court. 3rd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Papers, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1120522 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1120522

Pamela C. Corley

Vanderbilt University ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

Artemus Ward

Northern Illinois University ( email )

Department of Political Science
DeKalb, IL 60115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.niu.edu/polisci/faculty/profiles/ward/

Amy Steigerwalt (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

38 Peachtree Center Ave
Suite 1005
Atlanta, GA 30302
United States

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